Spatial and temporal variations of earthquake frequency-magnitude distribution at the subduction zone near the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
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The Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is unusually close to the Middle America Trench (MAT), such that interface locking along the megathrust is observable under land. Here, rapid convergence between the downgoing Cocos and the over-riding Caribbean plates at ~85mm/yr allows for observable high strain rates, frequent large earthquakes and ongoing micro-seismicity. By taking advantage of this ideal location, a network of 20 on-land broadband seismometers was established in cooperation between UC Santa Cruz, Georgia Tech, and OVSICORI, with most stations operating since 2008. To evaluate what seismicity tells us about the ongoing state of coupling along the interface, we must consistently evaluate the location and magnitude of ongoing micro- seismicity. Because of large levels of anthropogenic, biologic, and coastal noise, automatic detection of earthquakes remains problematic in this region. Thus, we resorted to detailed manual investigation of earthquake phases. So far, we have detected nearly 7,000 earthquakes below or near Nicoya between February and August 2009. From these events we evaluate the fine-scale frequency-magnitude distribution (FMD) along the subduction megathrust. The results from this b-value mapping‟ are compared with an earlier study of the seismicity 9 years prior. In addition, we evaluate them relative to the latest geodetically derived locking. Preliminary comparisons of spatial and temporal variations of the b-values will be reported here. Because ongoing manual detection of earthquakes is extremely laborious and some events might be easily neglected, we are implementing a match-filter detection algorithm to search for new events from the continuous seismic data. This new approach has been previously successful in identifying aftershocks of the 2004 Parkfield earthquake. To do so, we use the waveforms of 858 analyst-detected events as templates to search for similarly repeating events during the same periods that have been manually detected. Preliminary results on the effectiveness of this technique are reported. The overall goal of this research is to evaluate the evolution of stress along the megathrust that may indicate the location and magnitude of potentially large future earthquakes. To do so, I make the comparison between the FMD and the interface locking. Only positive correlations are observed in the Nicoya region. The result is different from the one derived from the seismic data set that was recorded 9 years before our data. Therefore, to substantiate the causes for the different relationships between the b-value and the coupling degree, we need additional data with more reliable magnitudes.